Pumpkins are not only generous in size, but are laden with vitamins and minerals. Most parts of the pumpkin are edible,
including the shell, flesh, seeds, leaves, flowers, and the delicious oil that is produced when the seeds are ground.
The best pumpkins for culinary uses are small (about 5 pounds). Pumpkins are a cold weather fruit (yes, fruit!) and can be stored for long periods in a cool, dark place. I like to remove the seeds and toast them for snacks and garnishes. I also peel the flesh from the shell and either freeze it or cook it until the water cooks out and I am left with a delicious and healthy puree. I also purchase cans of pumpkin puree and use it in everything from breads, pastas, gnocchi, and pastry items.
I am going Italian this Chanukah. These crispy, gorgeous purses are filled with pumpkin, rice, and cheese. Both the dough and filling can be made several days ahead or you can use prepared wonton skins. Once the tortelli are assembled, they can be frozen for several months. If you want to make pareve purses, omit the cheese and substitute 1 cup sautéed mushrooms.
Autumn in Tuscany looks a lot like the neighborhood pumpkin patch. Pumpkins of all shapes, sizes, and colors are piled high. For a big WOW, hollow out a 5-pound pumpkin, rub it with oil, and gently roast it in a 350°F oven until it becomes a toasty brown, about 15 minutes. Serve the finished soup in the pumpkin shell.
This delicious lowfat cake is loaded with vitamins and fall flavors. Make cupcakes and frost with your favorite frosting, or bake layers and serve it as a festive fall cake with poached pears.